Train carrying crude derails, catches fire in Virginia

A train carrying crude oil derailed Apr. 30 in Lynchburg, Va., setting 3 cars on fire, CSX Transportation announced. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported, although some businesses and residents nearby were evacuated, it said.

“CSX is responding fully, with emergency response personnel, safety and environmental experts, community support teams and other resources on site and on the way,” it said, adding that the train was travelling from Chicago to Virginia when it derailed about 15 rail cars.

There also were reports that crude spilled into the nearby James River, and that Richmond and other communities downstream were preparing for possible drinking-water supply impacts. Investigations into the accident were under way.

“Sadly the crash and fire in Lynchburg isn’t a surprise,” said Mollie Matteson, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Northeast office in Vermont.

“Citizens have been sounding the alarm about the increasing number of trains carrying explosive Bakken oil,” she continued. “This has got to be a wake-up call for federal authorities to protect people and the environment from these dangerous shipments.”

The environmental group recently called for a moratorium on rail transportation of crude in the US Northeast in a letter to members of the New York and Vermont congressional delegations, and to the leadership of rail safety subcommittees in Congress.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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